Everything is a Ghost in the Brain… And Ghosts Can’t Be Burned

This Ghost in the Brain series has been quite an intense experience. When I get too intense, when it lasts for a long period, the intensity stops being thrilling and becomes a heavy feeling which is too weighty to carry. When that happens I switch gears and shift into silliness. I look for a distraction which will lift me up and out of the darkness.

The other day I noticed that there was another competition on DeviantArt. Earlier in the month, I entered the Tomb Raider Reborn 2013 competition. My entry in not good enough, and I almost chickened out, but then I said ‘Fuck it!’ and did it anyway. I don’t expect to win. I never do. In fact I very rarely enter competitions because I have never won anything in my life, so it seems kind of pointless. Yes, I know it’s not about the winning, it’s about participating… blah, blah, blah. Participating gets dull when you never win anything, a little bit of encouragement is needed. Besides, my entire life has been a competition. Of survival. So everything else kind of pales by comparison. Yes, I know one shouldn’t compare… blah, blah, blah. So many rules, for life and everything else. Sometimes I think that winners make rules up just to make sure no one else can win. Those who climb the ladder to success all the way to the top, cut rungs as they move up so no one else can climb to the top. Cynical perhaps, but is it untrue.

So anyway, this new competition is all about illustrating the wonderful stories written by Neil Gaiman for a Blackberry dooberry. It’s called A Calendar Of Tales, because there is a story for each month. I’m not explaining it well, so… If you are interested in reading the stories – LINK.

My life with my hostage takers… I mean… parents, was a series of competitions, amongst other things. But the competition factor was something I noticed very early on. When I was a baby I got German Measles. My father got blood poisoning and almost died. He fell in a ditch, cut his leg, then went to a place which had poisonous chemicals, spilled something on the cut, poison entered his bloodstream, on his way back, he passed out at the wheel of his car, a hitchhiker found him, drove the car and my father to the hospital, saved his life, then disappeared. My mother became hysterical because my father, due to the blood poisoning, accused her of trying to kill him and the police were called by my father’s family. My mother was afraid that she would end up in jail or in a mental institution. Lawyers got involved, as always. Blah, blah, blah. I don’t actually remember that incident, but in later years it repeated itself. I would get a cold, my father would get pneumonia, my mother would become more mentally unstable than usual, and run around like a chicken without a head, being a hysterical martyr. When I almost died from acute appendicitis, my father had a stroke, and my mother had a mental breakdown. Happy days. Not.

And those were just the physical competitions. There were emotional competitions, and mental competitions too. Fun, fun, fun! In the physical department, I must admit that I always suspected that my parents would outlive me. Especially as my father was convinced that he was immortal. He seemed destined to win. So it was a shock when he was the first of us to go. My mother may still outlive me. She is very tenacious, and completely insane, but she believes herself to be the only sane person on Earth. Shrug. We’ll see. Well, if I die before her, I won’t actually see anything, but that’s a technicality.

So, the Neil Gaiman Calendar Tale with which I connected the most, was the beautiful prose he wrote for November – November Tale. He asked a question on Twitter – What would you burn in November, if you could? – and @MeiLinMirand replied – My medical records, but only if that would make it all go away. The story he wrote, inspired by the reply to his question, is stunning. Very evocative and emotive. I related to it deeply. Death and rebirth are a theme in my life. Many years ago I burned all the photographs which I could get my hands on of me as a child. I wanted to burn the memories of the time. I also wanted to liberate myself from that person. That child. I was always being compared to her, but the person I was being compared to was someone I had never actually been. I was never a child, not a real one. It was my parents’ fantasy version of who they had wanted as a child, rather than who they had had. They never saw me for who I was, always for who they wished I was. Good or bad. Burning your past is very liberating, but only for a while. The ghosts always haunt you. Because ghosts can’t be burned.

The most terrifying ghost haunting me at the moment, is the ghost of the future. The last couple of years have been the happiest of my life, and so much goodness is flooding in. I’m afraid it’s going to kill me. I am so used to dealing with difficulties, wound up so tightly, a coiled spring, always prepared for the worst, that I am completely unprepared for the best. How do I deal with it. If the spring uncoils… so much sweetness will kill me, and I will die before I can enjoy it. Sigh. Life has a very sick and twisted sense of humour. So do I.

So, Are you a winner, or a loser, or a never bothered entering a competition because what is the point? Does it matter? Is one better than the others?


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